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What is Nutrigenetics? A New Perspective on What You Eat & Drink

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Everyone is unique in their own way from different eye and hair color to your health and characteristics. Your genes have a massive effect on your appearance and wellbeing. Research is now suggesting that your genetics can control how you are able to process food and how certain foods can impact your health in a different way than other people.

The new and developing field of nutrigenetics aims to understand genetic susceptibility and the way in which small differences in your genes impact the way certain nutrients impact your body and health. By understanding these genetic differences, personalized diet plans based on your DNA and disease prevention advice can be provided based entirely on genetic makeup.

An Introduction to Nutrigenetics

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Finding ways to stay healthy and feel amazing is often a priority for people passionate about wellness. One key area that always pops up is nutrition. The promising science of nutrigenetics bridges the gap between genetics and nutrition. Basically, nutrigenetics is all about reading and analyzing your DNA, and from that information, you can tell what to eat and how to optimize your diet and lifestyle.

Should your DNA determine what you eat? According to nutrigenetics, the answer is a resounding yes. By examining how your body responds to nutrients based on your genetics, you can create a fully personalized and customized eating plan. We all know that one size fits all doesn’t work when it comes to clothes. So why would a one size fits all diet work for all of us? This is where nutrigenetics can bridge this gap and allow you to finally achieve your goals whether that’s losing weight, building muscle, having deeper focus, or simply just feeling your best. This allows your diet to fully support the optimum functioning of your body.

Chronic diseases and obesity are on the rise. Both are major causes of mortality and morbidity in countries all over the world. An emerging therapeutic approach known as Precision Nutrition takes into account a persons' genetic and epigenetic information. It’s the link between precision medicine, prevention, and health. Nutrigenetics has huge potential and a role to play in preventing chronic diseases and obesity.

Related: The Science Of Nutrigenics

Nutrigenetics and Matching Your Diet to Your DNA

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You probably already know that a varied diet full of whole foods provides essential macros, vitamins, and minerals for your body to thrive. But, overly processed foods, certain oils, dairy, and sugar are not only bad for your health but can actually trigger or turn on genetic mutations in your DNA especially if it’s found that these foods are especially triggers for you. It’s these DNA mutations that can cause inflammation and enable chronic disease.

Your individual genetic makeup heavily influences what you can and can’t digest. Do you ever wonder why some people seem to appear to eat anything they want without putting on weight while other people are constantly battling weight gain? Your genetics can help to determine if you have a tendency to gain weight, have trouble absorbing certain minerals or coping with toxins.

By investigating these differences, it’s possible to design an eating plan that matches your DNA and ensures optimal disease prevention. The way in which you absorb vital micronutrients like vitamins B, C, D, and E can change from one person to another. These nutrients help to protect against diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

By understanding this, it can help to boost your nutrient intake to protect your bodies even more. Maybe you need to take supplements more on a daily basis than other people. Nutrigenetics can allow you to determine that so you can take your health into your hands.

A study published in Diabetes Care investigated a group of individuals who carried a particular genetic risk for diabetes and associated higher risk of stroke. The study included 7,000 participants age 55 to 80 over five years. They demonstrated that individuals with two gene mutations were three times as likely to have a stroke while following a low-fat diet. However, they found that by eating additional nuts and olive oil, like in the Mediterranean diet, they could neutralize the risk of stroke. So, what you eat could really save your life.

The Future of Disease Prevention and Wellness

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Everyone knows that diet and exercise are crucial to your bodies, minds and overall wellbeing. There are multiple studies showing how specific compounds in foods correlate to changes in the body. The modern diet constantly experiments with food, cooking, and diets to find the perfect option. But, it remains the same that poor dietary choices affect you right to your core.

Science has shown hundreds of links between diet, genes, and health. It’s shown that a variation in a gene called FTO predisposes individuals to obesity. People with an alteration in a gene known as APOA2 lose weight by reducing saturated fat in their diet compared to those without the gene alteration. Considering that the human body has up to 25,000 genes with three million base pairs, nutrigenetics has made remarkable progress over the past decade.

Chronic inflammation is often linked to long-term diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. It can often be caused by being overweight, poor diet, smoking, and chronic stress. The Standard American Diet (SAD) tends to be high in animal fats, highly processed foods and sugar. It’s often lacking in whole plant-based foods, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Foods that are linked to chronic inflammation include:

  • Sugar
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Aspartame
  • Alcohol

Chronic Inflammation and the Standard American Diet

When it comes to disease prevention and chronic illnesses, your diet plays a major role. A study from the Norweigan Univesity of Science and Technology investigated how genes respond to the foods that you eat. Researchers studied slightly overweight people on different diets and then looked at the effect on gene expression.

Scientists found that a diet with 65% of carbohydrates made several genes work overtime. This not only affects genes that cause inflammation but also those associated with cardiovascular disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Basically, it affects all major lifestyle-related diseases.

It’s important to realize that not all carbohydrates are created equal. Complex carbs can be good for your body depending on your unique genetics whereas highly processed genetics have little to no nutrient value.

What Should You Really Eat and Drink?

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Nutrigenetics is a promising field of study and it appears that real personalized nutrition based on genetic makeup isn’t far off. In nutrigenetics, one of the things that professionals look at is single-nucleotide polymorphism or SNP. The average human has a ton of SNPs in their body. One of the hurdles of personalizing nutrition is that there are a lot of SNPs to test. SNPs are important as they can predict an individual’s response to certain drugs, environmental factors, and risk of developing diseases.

When trying to personalize your diet based on gene variations, it may say to reduce your sodium intake by 8% or increase your vitamin C by 50%. It can be difficult to understand how these numbers translate to real-life ingredients. But, what you can take from the data is that your body needs a healthy diet to thrive, full of whole foods with plenty of vitamins and nutrients.

If you feel confused and lost, don’t be. You can still make nutrition simple if you choose to. All you need to be sure is to eat plenty of whole foods full of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables along with protein and complex carbohydrates. When in doubt, just fall back on whole foods, limit processed foods and sugars, and apply the age old rule of moderation.

Nutrigenetics isn’t a way to completely determine your overall health and wellbeing. Your genes are not your destiny they only offer a glimpse into your tendencies, it doesn’t mean something will definitely happen.

The takeaway is to eat healthily and make good nutritional choices based on your genetic makeup. That way you don’t have to be a victim to your circumstances, but can instead thrive and live a long healthy and happy life. By taking your genes into account and understanding how your body responds to certain compounds, you can drink and foods that nourish your body. Your body doesn’t necessarily need a perfect diet, just a good one.

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